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The Spanking Room: A Child's Eye View of the Jehovah Witnesses    by William Coburn order for
Spanking Room
by William Coburn
Order:  USA  Can
Winepress, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Leslie McKee

What could possibly cause a five-year-old to consider suicide? This is what Coburn addresses in his firsthand account of being raised by a mother who became a Jehovah's Witness when he was four. It highlights how fearful and terrified he was by the physical and mental abuse that children - unwilling victims - can endure. We are told that Jehovah's Witnesses encourage corporal punishment by establishing a Spanking Room in their Kingdom Halls (their houses of worship). Four years of research, plus personal childhood experiences, led to Coburn's book.

Coburn provides a detailed account of the beliefs and practices followed by more than 7,000,000 Jehovah's Witnesses. He describes home study programs, with themes of death, destruction and vengeance and how he felt that the elders encouraged their followers to be 'slaves to Jehovah.' Apparently, the elders at Kingdom Hall preach that the Bible is an unreadable code that only the elders in the Watchtower Society can interpret. With the exception of the Memorial (The Last Supper), holidays and birthdays are not celebrated. Blood donations and transfusions, even to save a child's life, are discouraged.

Coburn witnessed the downfall of his parents' marriage. With his father believing that 'Jesus is the only way to salvation' and his mother believing that 'The Watchtower Society is the only way to salvation,' divorce was inevitable. Coburn became a successful husband, father, businessman and public speaker - not because of the Jehovah's Witnesses (as his mother hoped), but in spite of them.

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